There can be few more thrilling experiences than watching Manchester United come from being two goals behind at Wembley to beat ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City 3-2 with a last minute winner in the Community Shield. However much City may now try to dismiss the occasion as simply a ‘pre-season warm up’ it’s still a terrific feeling to see so many United youngsters rising to the occasion in classic Busby Babes’ style, all those players like Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck, each giving hope that another generation of ‘kids’ is coming through at Old Trafford.
But there was something else which gave me a very special frisson of delight as I watched events unfolding on television, and that was the sight of United’s official Guest of Honour , 70-year-old Dave Gaskell going down the line of players before kick-off and then ninety-odd minutes later handing out winner’s medals to the United players who were up to half a century younger than him. For me this was a particularly poignant sight.
I have always had a special affection for Dave Gaskell as a goalkeeper from my earliest days of supporting United and it was heart-warming to see that the club has such a strong sense of it’s own history, because of course Dave still holds the record as the youngest player ever to appear for United. What makes this such an appropriate occasion to treat him with honour is that he made his debut as a sixteen-year-old against City in the old Charity Shield in October 1956 at Maine Road, when the Matt Busby’s Babes were league champions and City were FA Cup holders, just like today…
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